Global Philanthropy Update - September 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018 - 10:00 am
Natalie Ross

September is a month of global conversations and events for the development community. As important actors in the global movement to achieve the ambitious targets within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, foundations play a vital role in this community.

Earlier this month, foundation leaders joined government and business leaders at the Global Climate Action Summit (GCAS) in San Francisco. Although our recent global grantmaking report with Foundation Center showed that only 2% of global grantmaking by US foundations between 2011 and 2015 focused on climate change, a key set of foundation leaders are committed to increasing philanthropic climate funding. Alongside GCAS, 29 philanthropists and foundations pledged more than $4B over the next five years to fight climate change – the largest ever philanthropic commitment on climate.

Climate will also be a focus at the UN General Assembly (UNGA), which kicked off this week in New York City and continues through September 28th. This year, high-level UN events will focus on health (specifically non-communicable diseases and tuberculosis) and peace, as well as on whether or not the world is on track to achieve the targets in the SDGs. Hundreds of side-events will bring together thousands of leaders from across sectors as well.

New research provides insight into how much has changed since the SDGs were adopted in 2015. Leaders around the globe are calling for increased funding, coordination, and collaboration in order to achieve SDG targets, such as ending extreme poverty, by 2030.

  • The Gates Foundation's Goalkeepers report shows recent developments in global health, highlighting that the most impoverished population is concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa. If current trends continue, 86% of those classified as extremely poor will live there in 2050. In order to truly “leave no one behind,” they call for increased investment in human capital, focusing on youth population growth.
  • New research from the Brookings Institution shows that the world is unlikely to achieve many SDG targets. Beyond that, data shows that we’re actually moving in the wrong direction on two indicators – air pollution and child obesity. The scholars also identify the countries where the most people are likely to be left behind if the pace of progress on achieving the SDGs does not increase.
  • The Overseas Development Institute explored the funding needed to end extreme poverty, finding that 29 countries lack the financing to make needed investments in health, education, and social protection.

Amidst calls for more action on the global goals, foundation and philanthropic engagement around UNGA and the SDGs continues to grow.

At the Council, we have several resources for you to plan your engagement as a foundation leader at UNGA, including a calendar of philanthropic side-events and a recent blog about what we’re watching at UNGA this year.

If you are hosting side-events featuring philanthropy that we should include in our calendar, or would like to meet up in New York this month, please contact me at  


Natalie Ross
Vice President, External Relations


ER Causing You Trauma? Diagnosing the Rules and Regulations for Expenditure Responsibility

Webinar | Wednesday, September 26th, 2:00 – 3:00 PM EST

Expenditure responsibility is a critical step for many foundations making grants globally. Join the Council’s legal team to discuss the Treasury regulations and best practice for ensuring compliance. Free for Council members.


Global Goals: Innovative Approaches to Driving Impact at U.S. Companies

Webinar Archive

Hear how General Mills, Citi, and IBM are leveraging the SDGs to demonstrate impact across their grantmaking, employee volunteering, and matching gift programs, as well as how the global goals allow companies to explore their impact globally and locally via both their core business and their corporate philanthropy. Free for Council members.


In-Person Events

Conference Registration Opening: Leading Together 2019
Miami, Florida | April 29-May 1, 2019

Are you planning to attend our 2019 Leading Together Conference in Miami next year, along with more than 1000 C-Suite leaders in philanthropy? Registration will be opening soon, and if you add your name to our Insiders List, you’ll get priority registration and an additional $100 off. We are planning a globally focused pre-conference and a global dinner, and will have several sessions focused on international issues throughout the conference. 

Become an Insider

The Foreign Agents Registration Act: Assessing Risks for Nonprofits

Washington, DC or Online | Tuesday, October 9th, 12:30 pm – 1:30pm EST

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law and Steptoe are having a discussion on how nonprofits and foundations might address compliance concerns related to FARA. Join in-person or via webinar. 



Career Pathways: Applications due October 15

The Council’s premier leadership development program, Career Pathways, is accepting applications for our 2019 cohort. Today, 86 percent of Career Pathways’ alumni are currently working at the senior executive level at philanthropic organizations across the world. Recent globally-focused participants of the program came from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Philanthropic Initiative’s Global Philanthropy Center, the Viking Global Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IBM, and more.

Apply Now


The Power of Community, Here and Around the World, via Boston Foundation

The Boston Foundation works to balance its role as a local leader within its community, and leverages local connections to international communities as an international grantmaker.

Bill and Melinda Gates on the 'single biggest determinant' of progress on the SDGsvia Devex

Rapid population growth, particularly in Africa, represents the greatest threat to progress in reducing global poverty. To truly achieve the SDGs, the world needs to increase investment in human capital in order to transform the youth population growth into opportunity for the future.

Philanthropy Finds a Major Role at the Global Climate Action Summit—Inside and Outside, via Inside Philanthropy

Philanthropic leaders at the Global Action Climate Summit made new commitments to funding climate change and were important catalysts in supporting the summit, which brought together leaders across sectors to discuss how to catalyze action on climate change globally. 

Can we think more expansively about ‘going to scale’?via Alliance Magazine

How can funders reimagine “scale” beyond mega-grant competitions or big bets to also explore the power of collective action and bottom-up social transformation that includes policy change?

Zakat for the SDGs, via United Nations Development Programme

The potential scale of Zakat donations globally has been estimated between US$200 billion and US$1 trillion annually. How can Zakat contributions help to achieve the SDGs? 

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